Food Blog | Cooking Blog
Zoe Williams of The Telegraph hits the nail on the head with her description of the Dean Street Townhouse as a "restaurant with serious pedigree". Only six years old, the brainchild of Nick Jones of Soho House and Richard Caring of the Ivy gives the impression of an establishment that has been nestled in the heart of Soho for some 100 years, spread over two large Georgian houses with a seemingly authentic old-school grown up luxury. Bold red vintage chairs and leather banquettes make for a stylish, 1920's-esq romantic setting in the cream and chocolate coloured space. There is a buzzing ambiance, with formally attired waiters and waitresses squeezing past each other to deliver classic British dishes to hip and stylish Soho dwellers that one might expect to find at any of the Soho House establishments. The Georgian-style wallpapered walls are peppered with classic British artworks and the rooms are lit by large, striking chandeliers. Though the dishes themselves are uncomplicated, the restaurant attracts some of London's fussiest eaters, serving beautifully prepared food from 7:30 am until 11:30 pm. Whether you are sat in the cosy dining area at the front, one of the tucked away private dining rooms, in the heaving main dining room or at the pavement terrace, there is a contagious sociable and upbeat vibe; expect a mix of media types, locals and celebrities dividing their time between people watching, cocktail sipping and delicious dining. Oh, and go hungry...
My guest for the evening - the Wiltshire pig - and I began with two signature Soho House cocktails. He went for a Deep Purple Coupe (Bombay Sapphire, Chambord, beet shrub, raspberries, lemon, Jerry Thomas bitters and egg white) and I for a Figs & Twigs Julep (Woodford Reserve, Oloroso sherry, fig shrub, mint). Both were delicious, although the Wiltshire pig was somewhat embarrassed as his masculinity was slightly threatened by the dusky pink martini glass decorated with delicate flower petals. He had followed our waitress' recommendation in an attempt to be charming, and despite his initial regret over not ordering something more "manly", the sweet fruity flavour was exactly what he wanted. Mine on the other hand, was sharp, citric and right on point for anyone who likes a full-bodied bourbon. Although a little intense for me, I very much enjoyed looking like the more badass of us both. Whilst paroozing through the menu, we nibbled a warm homemade sourdough that was served on a rustic board with a knob of very salty butter. The smell of fresh bread made the temptation too great, and we immediately broke into it: simple, light, airy and classic. Needless to day we reduced it to crumbs in a matter of minutes.
Although the Dean Street Townhouse menu is small and uncomplicated, ordering is made remarkably tricky by the extensive selection of classic British favourites. The dishes are reminiscent of British tradition, prepared classically and served with the conventional accoutrements. What leaves an impression is not the experimental content of the menu or any boundary breaking ingredient combinations, but the jaw dropping quality of each dish. I think that this makes it all the more incredible; the cooks at the Dean Street Townhouse manage to make you re-think whether your mother really does make the best bangers in mash in the universe, or whether your favourite staples really best served the way you are most familiar with. Everything is cooked to perfection, balanced with a silky smooth sauce and peppered with all of the right garnishing. Our first starter was no exception: a twice baked smoked haddock soufflé served with a warm chive hollandaise. The soufflé was soft, bouncy and incredibly light in consistency, and the buttery flavour of the smoked haddock was complimented by the sharp tang of parmesan cheese. Warm, light, and powerful: this dish means serious business and is the perfect way to begin a meal. I found the sauce particularly delicious - whilst the Wiltshire pig was more elegant, I couldn't resist mopping it up with a piece of toast. Next, we made our way through a delicious baked cornish crab, which was served warm in its shell with toast and lemon wedges. The crab meat was baked in a parsley lemon butter sauce that gave it a rich and fragrant taste, and was topped with a crunchy garlic breadcrumb crust that was impossibly moreish. Our third starter (why not) was a board of British cured meats, which was as delicious as one might expect. It contained a variety of meats including chorizo, salami, prosciutto and mortadella, but the stars of the show were actually the homemade red onion jam and the pickled grapes that accompanied the meats... Bewildering - the Wiltshire pig had to gobble his way through five before identifying them as grapes - "Are they olives? Gherkins? My taste buds are going mental!".
extra cheese for toppingMy main course was half a roast chicken served with chipolatas, stuffing, roast potatoes and bread sauce. The meat was juicy and succulent with a dark and crispy skin packed with flavour. Doused in gravy and served with all of the right trimmings, the dish was absolutely fantastic, and the extremely nutmeggy bread sauce was a real highlight. The Wiltshire pig suggested that the chicken might have been cooked for five minutes fewer, but I am dismissing that entirely as I really wouldn't have changed a thing. The stuffing had a chicken liver top note which made it impossible to resist, even after I was well and truly full. Eyes bigger than my tummy (again), half a chicken is actually quite a lot... I also opted for a portion of creamed spinach which was the BEST thing I could have done. I had to share it with the pig because it was too good not to talk about; the spinach was pulverised so that each forkful went down without so much as a chew and the winey cream reduction did it all of the right favours. I would absolutely order the same thing again next time.
Whilst I was busying myself with my half a chicken, the WP cruised his way through a perfectly tender rib eye steak. The cut was aged such that the meat filaments tore apart effortlessly and the meat was soft and tender throughout. Served medium rare, with chips and fresh béarnaise, it was the perfect main course for my still-a-little-hungry man date. Once more, what left me with the strongest impression was the sauce: a smooth béarnaise with the perfect amount of fresh tarragon that left you slightly wanting to polish it off with a teaspoon. The steak itself was delicious, but I am fairly certain that the sauce would have made a big mac look state of the arc. The Wiltshire pig also ordered a recommended herb salad for a little freshness and crunch. We were both simply too full to even contemplate desert, although we did end up ordering more of our delicious bottle of wine. A brilliant evening full of delicious food, wonderful drinks and a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere. Head over to www.deanstreettownhouse.com and take a peek at there new winter menu - I know I will be going back to sample the calves liver with bacon, or perhaps the mallard with red cabbage and smoked mash!